As the school year comes to a close, the future is nearly upon four Century High School players who signed letters of intent last week to continue their athletic careers at the college level.
Century lacrosse player Gavin Mannen, a midfielder for the Jaguars and Pacific Conference Second-Team All-Star in 2017, has chosen to play college lacrosse at the University of Montana.
"I'm awestruck," said Mannen. "I can't believe I'm actually committed to play Division II lacrosse."
Montana plays in the Pacific Northwest Collegiate Lacrosse League, who's Division II conference consists of 13 schools scattered throughout Oregon, Washington, and Montana. The Grizzlies are the 2017 conference champions and have won four titles in the last 13 seasons. Aside from being a successful program, Mannen chose Montana due to its location, as well as his affinity for the school and campus itself.
"The moment I stepped on the campus I knew it was the right place for me," he said. "I knew I wanted to go out of state, but Montana is still close to home and being able to play for a successful program made the decision a lot easier."
Mannen thanked his parents for getting him involved with the sport seven years ago, and his coaches and teammates for the last couple of seasons.
"They all helped me fall in love with the sport," he said.
While Mannen was thanking his teammates, Brennan Howell, Jordan Draper and JJ Perez were sticking with them. The Jaguar football players made the decision to continue playing together, this time at the College of the Siskiyous.
While they all like the school and what it provides from a football standpoint, the three soon-to-be college football players chose it for varying reasons.
"It felt like home to me and the coaches reminded me of my high school coach, Bill Smith," said Draper. "They seem to have a well run program both sports-wise and academically."
Perez saw it as his best opportunity to play at the next level and wanted to thank his high school wrestling coach, Guy Takahashi.
"Coach Takahashi has helped me through my entire high school career," said Perez.
Howell is happy to be able to play a couple more years of football, but in addition, gets to pursue his career as a firefighter.
"It works out perfectly for me," said Howell.
The Century running back wanted to thank God, his family and his coaches and teammates for pushing him to be the best he could be.
"Without them I'd be nowhere," he said. "They've always had my back and been with me through everything."
All three players seem to appreciate their opportunity and look forward to more time on the gridiron, and in this case with their high school teammates.
"I'm obviously thankful to my parents for always being there, and my linebacker coach Aaron Nave," said Draper. "But I also want to thank my friend and teammate JJ Perez. He always helped me to strive to be better as an athlete."